A trip to Walt Disney World is a major thrill—as well as a major investment. With an increase in visitors, as well as new extended park hours and new demand-driven ticket pricing, figuring out when to time your visit to Disney World is trickier than ever. Make the most of your time and money with this age-based guide to the best times to visit Disney World.
Best Time to Visit Disney World: Fall; Off-Season (September 1 to the third week of October—except Columbus Day)
Crowd Level: Low
Best For: Preschoolers
Why: Low crowds, low prices and seasonal “Free Dining” offers
Details: If your kids are little, now is the time to visit the World! Enjoy balmy weather (warm enough for an afternoon swim) and lots of elbow room.
Downside: There’s a downside?
Extend the Magic Survival Strategy: Little kids tend to be up with the sun, so use the early bird advantage to maximize your park visits. If you’re staying at an onsite resort (or at a property with Extra Magic Hours benefits,) plan park visits to take advantage of early morning Extra Magic Hours. Also, bring a good travel stroller for comfort!
Best Time to Visit Disney World: After Thanksgiving to Mid-December
Crowd Level: Low
Best For: Elementary-age kids (and any kids who can miss school!)
Why: You can enjoy holiday shows and seasonal splendor along with low crowds and lower prices.
Details: This “magical” time period is considered by many to be one of the very best times to visit the World. If you have the flexibility, visit on weekdays versus weekends.
Downside: Missing school
Extend the Magic Survival Strategy: Buy tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The separately ticketed evening event at Magic Kingdom features special holiday-themed shows, snacks, fireworks and exclusive character meet-ups.
Best Time to Visit Disney World: Late-August
Crowd Level: High
Best For: Middle- and high-school age kids
Why: The kids won’t miss school, and crowds and hotel rates are lower compared to June, July and early August. Extended park hours are also offered during the summer.
Downside: It’s hot and crowd levels are still high! Summer showers are frequent (but thankfully fleeting.)
Details: Summer–when schools are not in session–is peak travel time at Walt Disney World. Crowds are inevitable; however, you can sidestep them a bit if you time your visit for late August (when it’s not quite as packed.) If you live in a spot where schools don’t start until September, plan your visit for the week of Labor Day and watch the numbers wane.
Extend the Magic Survival Strategy: Beat the heat by packing the essentials for Disney World, and plan to spend time in your hotel pool. Also consider purchasing tickets for Disney AfterHours or Disney’s Early Morning Magic.
Best Time to Visit Disney World: January and Early to Mid-May
Crowd Level: Lower (except for Marathon and Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekends)
Best For: College age
Why: College school break time (when most K-12 schools are still in session) equals lower crowds compared to summer and Christmas. In January, prices are lower.
Details: College kids pay a hefty price for skipping school, so break time is the right time to schedule a Disney World visit.
Downside: January: Some attractions and water parks are closed for refurbishment, parks close earlier, and weather can be chilly. Avoid Disney Marathon weekend mid-month; May: Weather can be hot and humid.
Extend the Magic Survival Strategy: Pack portable fans for May and jackets/winter gear for January. If you have just a day or two to spend in the World, splurge on tickets to Disney AfterHours (available on select dates in the month of January.)
Best Time to Visit Disney World: Free Dining Offer Dates
(2020 Dates: June 27 and 28, July 5 to 7, August 29 to September 8)
Crowd Level: Varies by date
Best For: Grandparents treating the family
Why: Free dining! Added-value offer makes it possible to enjoy an all-inclusive vacation. Late summer/fall, during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, is a favorite time for foodies.
Downside: Summer is hot and crowded; some resort hotel properties are excluded from the offer. Other offers may be a better deal, depending on your needs.
Details: Book a five-night/six-day Walt Disney World Travel package that includes a room at a select Disney Resort hotel and receive free dining. Guests of Deluxe and Deluxe Villa properties receive the regular dining plan, which includes table service venues. Guests of Value and Moderate properties receive the Quick Service Plan, good for counter service venues. Free Dining offers are typically announced at the first of the year and sell out quickly. Plan far in advance in order to take advantage.
Extend the Magic: Avoid “hangry” meltdowns (or get your Dole Whip quick!) by utilizing the Mobile order function in the MyDisneyExperience app. If you have the regular Dining Plan, you can maximize table service credits by making advance dining reservations (ADR) for a themed Orlando dinner show such as Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review or Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show; book front row seats to popular attractions on your family bucket list; and make early-morning dining reservations for a character breakfast (on a non-Extra Magic Hours morning) at a Disney theme park dining venue nearby. (i.e. if you want to ride Soarin’, make reservations at Epcot’s The Garden Grill.)